Back in February, a friend from my hometown in Wisconsin sent me a link to a Runners World story about running in Stillwater, Oklahoma (click for article). Obviously I was very intrigued, as I have called Stillwater home for almost 3 years now, and there are few roads or soft surfaces I haven’t explored on the run.
The author received a lot of comments debating her perceptions of the “anti-running culture” in Stillwater. But the point of her article seemed to be more about how running has influenced who she is and how her personal experiences running in Stillwater are helping her figure out who she is and where she is going. However, I too, found some of her perceptions of running in Stillwater to be very different from mine. But that’s the beauty of perceptions, I suppose—they are our own, and they influence how we see the world. So, because running each day in this city also greatly influences who I am, I wanted to provide my own perceptions of running in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
There is a “perfect” place to run in Stillwater no matter what sort of environment you’re looking for. You can find solitude or be surrounded by people in a matter of a mile or two. You can find protection from the elements or enjoy a beautiful sunrise or sunset while jogging around the lake or over the grassy hills of a cross country course. You can find dirt roads, grass, or pavement before you even start sweating. And you can always count on seeing a familiar face. There are serious runners and casual joggers out at any time on any given day. My schedule is too variable to figure out how to make a regular group run, but I always feel the sense of community even when I’m out there pounding the pavement solo or with my trusty canine sidekicks. In fact, depending on the hour and location of my runs, I can fairly accurately predict who I might see out on the run. On early morning runs at Boomer Lake, which has a 3-mile well lit path that doesn’t require any stopping for traffic, I can count on seeing Dr. Kelly and his wife completing their interval workout. I can count on seeing my professor, Dr. Gates, walking around the lake, all before the sun comes up.
Sunrise runs on the cross country course mean my sassy dogs will once again bark at the gentleman who likes to stop and stretch while out enjoying a casual stroll. The cross country course in the evenings turns into a wide open dog park, and I get to say hello to many of the neighborhood pooches that are out there daily. Eventually, the OSU running club will gather and begin their evening workout.
Sunday runs out on the dirt roads are quiet and therapeutic. A lot of the problems and challenges from the week are solved out there. If the run is long enough and I find myself getting hungry, a very hefty grocery list full of indulgences is also organized in my mind. You can always count on passing some of the cross country runners out for their runs, with their smooth, effortless form (making it look much easier than it feels for me at that exact moment). The dirt roads are always the perfect blend of peaceful solitude and motivational camaraderie.
I could go on and on about what I love about running in this city, but I hope I have made my point: Stillwater, Oklahoma is a special place to run. No matter what I need that day, whether it be confidence in a tough decision I’m trying to make, or an idea for an experiment, or if I just need to be with people — I can find the exact environment that I need while out on a run in Stillwater.
And for that, I am thankful.
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